Posts Tagged ‘Conway Twitty’
Sunday, October 12th, 2008
As we gear up for the 42nd Annual CMA Awards and the possible surprises and disappointments that it might bring, I’m looking back to night and wondering:
What’s the greatest injustice in CMA history?
My first instinct was to note Conway Twitty, who lost all five of his bids for Male Vocalist and both of his bids for Entertainer. But at least he has four CMA awards to his credit, all of them shared with Loretta Lynn in the Vocal Duo category.
Then I thought about Sawyer Brown. Despite a hit run that lasted a good decade, they were never honored with Vocal Group of the Year, despite seven nominations. But at least they won a trophy back in 1985, when they were given the Horizon Award shortly after their Star Search victory.
So I’m going with Rosanne Cash. Despite strong record sales, critical acclaim and eleven #1 singles in the eighties, she went 0 for 11 at the CMA awards, including six failed bids for Female Vocalist of the Year. That’s not even getting into what the CMA failed to nominate, like her classic single “Seven Year Ache” and her landmark album King’s Record Shop. Even her 2002 collaboration with Johnny Cash, “September When it Comes”, failed to secure a Vocal Event nomination.
What do you think is the greatest injustice in CMA history? Take a look around the CMA database and our annotated history of the major categories and share your thoughts!
Friday, August 1st, 2008
You’ve Never Been This Far Before
Written by Conway Twitty
Conway Twitty was a pop star first, as he scored a major hit in the late fifties with “It’s Only Make Believe.” The signature voice is there, though it’s heavily influenced by Elvis Presley. But even back then, a full decade before he successfully switched genres, Twitty was writing country songs.
Though most of his later hits were penned by others, Twitty wrote some of his biggest early country hits, like “Hello Darlin’” and “Linda on My Mind.” Whether he was grieving over a woman who left him or cheating on the one who slept by his side, there was always a deep concern for the feelings of the woman involved in the song.
This was especially apparent in his sultry hit from 1973, “You’ve Never Been This Far Before,” which was so sexually charged that some country stations were reluctant to play it. The song find him having relations with a woman he’s watched from afar, and the lyrics would be racy on today’s country radio scene. So you can imagine how listeners must’ve reacted hearing the mild-mannered country star sing, in a coarse almost-whisper, “I don’t know what I’m saying as my trembling fingers touch forbidden places.” I’ve often wondered if R&B group B2K stole the rhythm of their grinding hit “Bump Bump Bump,” from the “Bum Bum Bum” that Twitty escalates throughout the course of the record.
But there’s still a tenderness to the lyric, and part of the song’s controversy stemmed from misinterpretation of the lyrics. When he sings “I can tell you’ve never been this far before,” many assumed that he was with a woman much younger than him, and he was her first time. From that perspective, Twitty would sound nauseatingly lecherous.
But those listeners missed the key line, “I don’t know and I don’t care what made you tell him you don’t love him anymore.” There might be some adultery going on, but that’s about it, and her motivation seems to be looking for real love, not lust, and thinking she’s found it with the man she’s crossing the line with. What makes this a love song, rather than just a cheating song, is the final verse: “As I take the love you’re giving,” he sings, “I can feel the tension building in your mind. You’re wondering if tomorrow, I’ll still love you like I’m loving you tonight.”
He answers, “You have no way of knowing, but tonight will only make me love you more.” It’s a startlingly genuine display of emotion, and when the thoughts in his mind are paired with the action going on, what could have been a tawdry exercise becomes a pure expression of love.
“You’ve Never Been This Far Before” is the the latest in a series of articles showcasing Classic Country Singles. You can read previous entries at the Classic Country Singles page.
Listen: You’ve Never Been This Far Before
Buy: You’ve Never Been This Far Before
Sunday, June 29th, 2008
100 Greatest Women
She came from the humblest of beginnings, the daughter of a Kentucky coal miner who married when she was only thirteen years old. Before she turned eighteen, she was a mother of four. But she would emerge from her simple background to become one of the most successful and significant female artists in the history of recorded music, pushing the conventional lyrical boundaries of country music with her sharply-written songs.
Of course, the story of her life before she became a star is almost as interesting as the music that made her one. Born and raised in Butcher Hollow, Kentucky, Lynn grew up in a small shack with an assortment of younger brothers and sisters. She sang at local church events and for the entertainment of family friends and relatives, and her mother taught her to sing the old country ballads of the mountains.
Though many fans learned of her background the film adaptation of her autobiography, Coal Miner’s Daughter, the depth of her family’s poverty was downplayed in the movie, and when Loretta married Oliver “Mooney” Lynn, they moved all the way to Custer, Washington, to avoid the harsh coal-mining life. Soon, young Loretta was completely isolated from her family, and stuck in a cycle of domestic chores while tending to her brood of children. Music became her only outlet, and when her husband noticed her talent, he bought her a guitar at Sears.
She taught herself to play and began writing songs. By age 24, she was playing the local honky-tonks. Her husband Mooney, who she affectionately referred to as Doo, pushed her into a talent contest, which she won, leading to the president of the small Zero Records label financing a trip for Loretta to go record in Los Angeles. She recorded the single “I’m a Honky Tonk Girl”, which was clearly influenced by Kitty Wells, right down to the title. Her husband shipped out copies of the single to stations across the country, and they set out on a three month road trip to promote the record, stopping at every radio station they could find.
The promotional trip pushed the record to #14 on the country singles chart, and the Lynns moved to Nashville to capitalize on its success. Lynn performed on the Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree, and he became a big early backer of Lynn, as did Patsy Cline, who also became one of her closest friends during her early days in Nashville. She was also helped along by the Wilburn Brothers, who were instrumental in getting Lynn signed to Decca, but also trapped her in a publishing contract that lost her a large amount of potential profits.
As the sixties progressed, Lynn became an Opry star, joining the cast in 1962. She began to score hits fairly regularly, including solo records like “Success,” “Wine, Women and Song” and “Blue Kentucky Girl”, and a series of hit duets with Tubb, the most successful being 1964′s “Mr. and Mrs. Used to Be.” But she didn’t write any of her singles for Decca in those early years, even though she’d penned that one Zero Records hit that got the ball rolling.